Featured image by Richard Lovrich
I didn’t really get started with music until I was in my 20s. Why didn’t I do it earlier? I chose dance over piano lessons. Even though I loved music, I was shy and scared to try it on my own. I didn’t have a peer group of like-minded people who would support my experiments and failures. In fact, the only musician peers I had were male, and I did not feel included in their world. I did feel included in the dance world, filled with femmes and queers. So I suppose that set my trajectory, which is why my deeper venture into music came from throwing dance parties.
Some friends and I organically started a collective in 2008 called Cheryl. We just wanted a good dance party in our own neighborhood (still-affordable South Slope, Brooklyn, where we began throwing fêtes in the back room of a bar). Cheryl quickly snowballed into something much bigger, because it filled a need. Like many other dance parties in the mid to late aughts, Cheryl emerged from the post-Giuliani ashes, after he had decimated club culture by enforcing Cabaret Laws (no dancing in bars!) and shuttering big clubs where primarily people of color and queer folks hung out.
The cornerstone of what became our collective artistic practice was inclusivity. We resisted any type of label. We wanted to be open to anyone. And through this inclusivity, we built a world people wanted to join, where they felt safe. At the time, I imagined this as a dimensional portal to a place that I felt more comfortable existing within. Now, I see that what we were doing was, in fact, radical, although we weren’t striving for that at the time. It just felt natural.
Fast forward to 2014 when I moved up to Hudson. I knew only two people in the area, so it took me a while to get settled. A few years in, I started DJing around town. The idea of throwing parties was very exciting to me, especially because I was still trying to find my people. Who wanted to rave in Hudson? Turns out there were a few.
My DJ nights became more frequent until I had a monthly party at The Half Moon. The same friends would show up. And people started asking, “Hey, do you think you could show me how to do that?” So I figured, why not get everyone together in the same room, and we can talk about DJing, do some skill-sharing, mess around with the equipment and see what happens?
Last year around this time, DJ School began. From there, it was a natural jump to throw parties together. It was a huge relief for me, because sometimes I’d do a night and feel really lonely and sad afterward. Not that being lonely is a good reason to throw a party! Although, maybe it is? How does a raver find their people if not on the dance floor or in the DJ booth? At any rate, it’s always more fun to throw a party as a collective than as an individual, in my experience. As is often the case with a group of people, a wide variety of skills are present, and people can take on different facets of the production. Not to mention different brains coming up with ideas that you yourself would never think of.
Upon finding a name, a few things were floated, but the one that stuck was Mostly Girls. Which is true! We are Mostly Girls. But also, we aren’t. Why do we need to label based on gender, when that’s only a piece of our identity? Well, it’s important to point out that we are part of a sea change happening in music — including DJs and nightlife. There are other femme and non-binary DJ collectives making great strides, the most visible being Discwoman, based in New York City. We aren’t trying to cop their identity, but it is worth stating that we are mostly femme people. Some queer, some not. This, believe it or not, is kind of a new thing in the male DJ-dominated world of dance music.
At the same time, I hope the name Mostly Girls makes it clear that we are also inclusive. We’ve had non-girl members too. Because — let’s face it — maybe the path toward a better world is not repeating the patterns of the oppressors. Maybe exclusivity needs to die with the patriarchy.
Since last summer, we’ve thrown a number of parties and raves in our region. And we’ve been successful gathering diverse crowds, especially in our hometown of Hudson. It appears we’re filling a need here. We’ve been busy building a world and inviting people into it. See you there?
Mostly Girls will throw a house party at the Hudson VFW on Saturday, March 28, and will be at Avalon Lounge in Catskill on Saturday, April 18. Follow @m0stlygirls on Instagram.